There are certain combinations in this world that just seem destined to go together. Take peanut butter and jelly for example. Standing alone both parts are individually great, but put them together and you will find a synthesis that simply cannot be duplicated. For the Alaska fly fishermen, this same spectacular fusion can be found between the Leopard Rainbow Trout and mouse specific fly patterns. Believe us, once you experience the taste of it, the fly fishing portion of life as you know it will be forever tainted.
The term "Leopard Rainbow" is said to have been coined in attempts to categorize the uniquely cryptic complexion that some Alaskan Rainbow Trout exhibit. With a seemingly endless array of spotting that is well beyond that of your everyday Rainbow Trout, the "Leopard" variety, is one of the most beautiful and highly coveted of all the resident Alaska gamefish.
Any stream in Alaska that supports a healthy trout population has the capacity to produce Leopards. While there really is no specific way to target them solely, an angler can increase their odds by simply placing their fishing efforts in waters that have a reputation for supporting large numbers of them. Western clear water tributaries of the Kuskokwim, Bristol Bay, Katmai National Park, and the Wood-Tikchik regions are known for consistently producing these spectacular Leopard Rainbow Trout.
Timing your visit for this Leopard/Mouse combo has less to with the fish and more to do with the prey. During the spring the mice begin to materialize, emerging from their winter slumber to forage heavily, always cognizant of the winters to come. Throughout the late spring and summer, mice, voles, and other little bite-sized, furry critters can be seen scurrying around all over the forest floor, finding it necessary to take a swim on occasion. When this happens, trout cannot help themselves from engaging in a full-throttle assault, devouring the unfortunate, protein rich fuzz ball with pleasure.
The most difficult thing about fishing with a mouse pattern is regulating your desire to fish it all the time. Mousing is hands down one of the most addicting ways to fly fish on earth, and it just so happens to shine here in Alaska. Unlike their delicate, tea and crumpet eating cousins in the lower 48, these Alaskan trout attack large patterns violently, and are not startled by a splashy presentation.
Focusing efforts near large snags, drop-offs, and undercut banks, anglers should present their mouse patterns upstream of the targeted area in an attention grabbing manner. The goal here is to let the trout know that there is blood in the water, instinctively putting them on-point, focusing on locating the meal that is about to come skittering above.
When it comes to the retrieve, anglers have multiple variations that produce similar results. Our favorite is accomplished by elevating your rod tip and feverishly waving it from side to side. The skittering action that is produced is simply irresistible to any trout close enough to begin pursuit, and an epic explosion will follow soon.
If you are looking at chasing Leopard Rainbow Trout on mice patterns, here are a few lodges and outfitters that we highly recommend.